Importance of College for Rural Family in China: “…Only Knowledge Changes Your Fate”

I was very moved by this story in the NY Times which chronicles the sacrifice of a rural family to allow their only child to apply to college:

You can see a slide show here: Rural Chinese Family Sacrifices to Send Child to College

But high education costs coincide with slower growth of the Chinese economy and surging unemployment among recent college graduates. Whether young people like Ms. Wu find jobs on graduation that allow them to earn a living, much less support their parents, could test China’s ability to maintain rapid economic growth and preserve political and social stability in the years ahead.

The story makes clear that the enormous sacrifice of the family, particularly the father who has worked in a backbreaking job at a coal mine for many years, may not  realize their dreams for their child –that she will have a better life which will allow her to take care of her parents in their old age…The child does just pass the exam allowing her to attend a polytechnic – akin to a community college – and she is majoring in a popular major called “logistics.”  The story points out the irony that Chinese students who do graduate college are “four times as likely to be unemployed as young people who attended only elementary school, because factory jobs are more plentiful than office jobs [see my earlier post on this issue of college grads not wanting to get their hands dirty].”

Parents everywhere want their children to succeed and lead a better life — it’s a universal aspiration.  This story makes it clear that China, despite its economic boom, is facing a future where those who are poorest, with the least resources, with the least support from the state – and yet who strive in the same way as their urban counterparts to lead a better life – face a very uncertain future.  At this story’s end, the child’s mother is quoted as saying: “…What if she can’t get  a job after we have spent so much on education.”


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